Bento 51: Kimbap
About 11 years ago (gasp!!) I was in my first year of college in Fresno, CA. Most (if not all) of the first-year students, especially international students, had paid for space in the dorms. This means meal plans, shared rooms and communal bathrooms. I couldn’t stomach the thought of being tied into the university slop kitchen, and so I turned up the week before classes start with nothing but two suitcases. I did not realise then, but I was extremely lucky to land a room so late in the year; most students had sorted out accomodations months before the start of Fall semester, and most apartments were already full, even the dorms were all full. I was extremely lucky that on my first day there, a Japanese girl was posting up her roomate-wanted ad when I walked past, as her roomate had just decided not to return from Japan.
Anyway, as the only student with a proper kitchen, fridge and sofa, other first-year international students regularly came over for a bite to eat, getting away from the salad-bar and hotdog/pizza combination. In return, I would regularly take their place at the dining hall for breakfast. Cooking experiments in my teensy kitchen was fun, exciting and sometimes disgustingly inedible. One of my most memorable meal in that first semester was kimbap, although I wouldn’t know it as kimbap for another 9 years.
It’s funny how I don’t even remember her name now, but I remember the ingredients. Student x (I really do not remember her name!) offered to cook us some summer korean food, sorely missing the food of her home. She explained that she was going to make ‘Korean sushi’ – how else would a bunch of teenagers understand what kimbap is? At that time I’ve only ever had kimchi twice.
Hotdogs, omelet, cucumber and carrot were the filling of my very first kimbap. She seasoned her rice with sushi-su as well, which confused me even further. I thought it was a Korean rip-off version of maki, or something that she made up due to our limited funds as students. It really wasn’t until I started bento-ing beginning of this year that I realised that kimbap was an actual dish!
I remember kimbap very fondly – and I have no idea why it took me so long to recreate it. I used hotdogs, takuan, carrots, cucumber and spinach in my kimbap. I added some teddy grahams in a silicon cup and a tub of soy sauce. On the other layer (more of a snack layer) I have some hoummous dip in a bear cup with cucumber sticks and cucumber fashioned into a baran, more cherries (I know, MORE??!!) and some steamed sugar snap peas.
All packed in my brand new red lube sheep bento!